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House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport with Chief Justice Leigh Saufley of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/06/14

Fredette/LePage Bill to Modernize Maine's Courts Receives Unanimous Committee Nod

Bill would implement e-filing in Maine's state court system

AUGUSTA - A bill introduced by Governor Paul LePage and sponsored by House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport received the unanimous approval of the Legislature's Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon.

The bill, LD 1789, "An Act To Modernize and Improve the Efficiency of Maine's Courts," would initiate a $15 million overhaul of the planning, purchasing, customizing, and implementing of a case management, data storage, and electronic filing system for the judicial branch.

"This is a major improvement to the efficiency and accessibility of Maine's courts," said Rep. Fredette. "With this reform, we are finally moving our court system into the Twenty-First Century."

The introduction of e-filing is an initiative the Judicial Branch has specifically requested, and would make dramatic improvements to the efficiency of Maine courts and the accessibility of public documents. It allows litigants to file court documents electronically for easy access by themselves and by researchers, the media, interested parties, businesses, and others.

"This is the single most important initiative to affect the Judicial Branch in a decade," said Mary Ann Lynch, Government and Media Counsel to the Judicial Branch. "This is not only an important access to justice issue, it is also something that will be good for Maine law enforcement and business, as it will save time and money in accessing the Courts."

Many other states, including New Hampshire and Vermont, have adopted or are planning to adopt, statewide e-filing. Some states, such as Texas and Florida, are moving toward mandatory e-filing.

"The trend is for state court systems to adopt e-filing either statewide or on a county by county basis," said Bill Raftery of the National Center for State Courts. "That's the way most states are heading."

"The process of filing and retrieving court documents hasn't changed much since Maine became a state," said Rep. Fredette, himself a practicing attorney in Newport. "It doesn't make sense in this day and age to have to drive half way across the state just to pick up a document."

"This will help businesses and people spend less time handling court matters and more time earning a living," added Rep. Fredette. "Furthermore, those looking for places to locate a business consider a state's legal infrastructure among other factors in determining ease of operation. This bill is really an economic development initiative."

The bill will now proceed to the full Legislature for approval.

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Maine House Republicans
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